Monday, 23 July 2012

Reform Jersey


So, the time has come to officially announce the formation of a pressure group "Reform Jersey" to campaign for meaningful electoral reform in Jersey.

Reform Jersey is a non-politically affiliated group that is seeking to promote a united vision for reform in Jersey and actively engage with people across the island and encourage them to take part in the reform process so that their voices are heard and we make the Electoral Commission deliver on their promise for reform.

Reform Jersey believes that it is fundamental that any reform of the composition of the States Assembly must encompass these three principles:
  1. Each States Member should represent the same number of people.
  2. Each voter should have the same number of votes.
  3. The system must be simple and user friendly.

The system we currently have encompasses none of these principles, yet they are fundamental for ensuring that everyone in Jersey is adequately represented.

Essentially, this will mean that Jersey will be split into several multi-member super-constituencies, each covering the same population and each with the same number of members. We feel that this is the best way for islanders to make sure no one has more of a say than anyone else, each area will have equal representation and everyone will have the maximum say that is practically possible. It also means that there will be one type of States Member, and the Constables will remain as solely the heads of their Parish, rather than having their current dual role.

Over the next couple of weeks, we are aiming to deliver leaflets to as many houses in Jersey as possible (we are looking for volunteers, so please get in touch if you want to help!) to spread the word and encourage people to make their voices heard by writing into the commission and arguing for those three principles. You can see an online copy of the leaflet by clicking on the "Reform Jersey" tab on the navigation bar.

As well as that, on the 30th July we are holding a public meeting at the Town Hall to discuss reform. There will be a panel of speakers, politicians, former politicians, academics and mere mortals, as well as an opportunity for members of the public to express their views, ask questions and hopefully get a good debate going. More speakers are to be confirmed, but so far I can announce that we have former deputy and father of the Electoral Commission Daniel Wimberley, current Deputy Roy Le Hérissier, as well as myself.

So if all of this interests you, there are 4 things you can do -
  1. Attend our public meeting at 7pm on the 30th July at the Town Hall.
  2. Write to the commission at ec@gov.je and argue for those three principles!
  3. Join our facebook group at www.facebook.com/ReformJersey and follow us on twitter @ReformJersey.
  4. Get in contact with us at reformjersey@gmail.com, call me on 07797 811130 or send me a message on this blog (if you don't mind it being public).
The campaign officially starts now! So comrades, join me, gather your friends and lets make this happen!

11 comments:

  1. I hope you can get this off the ground because we need a new kind of States. Party Politics is the only way to be a real true democracy.

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  2. Good idea Sam but for gods sake don't start rubbing shoulders with people like Ian Leslie Evans. Just check out his criminal record at work if you want to know what I mean.

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  3. Sam, this is a good initiative but I fear you are falling into the trap that you accuse the EC itself of doing, that is coming up with a pre-determined outcome before you have heard people's views. Most submissions on the EC website want some island-wide mandate and I don't think you can just ignore that. Read in Hansard what Daniel Wimberley said in the debate on Caroline Labey's proposition to reverse the decision on Senators - he said that in 2009 PPC had come up with super districts but MORI had shown that the public didn't want them. If Reform is to work you need to find a fair and democratic solution that the people of Jersey want.

    3rd March 2011 Deputy of St Mary - "P.P.C. chose to bring in P.72 in 2009, a proposal that ignored what the public most wanted, and produced a solution, which was the multi-Member constituency, which was what they least wanted."

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  4. I agree with the stance on the Island Wide Mandate because lets be honest here, how many Deputies are there currently in the States who have failed to get elected on an Island Wide Mandate yet ironically want rid of the position?

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    1. I think that's just cynicism to be honest. There are plenty of intellectual and philosophical reasons to want to have no Senators.

      Mine is that, despite that it's the most democratic of all the current types of members, it's also the most impractical to elect the whole assembly by. Cutting the island into a few super constituencies would mean it would be just like having several mini-Senator elections. Best of both worlds.

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  5. Good luck with this, Sam, sincerely.

    Bear in mind it will be a severe uphill struggle, political apathy being the default setting for the majority of islanders. You need to prepare yourself for the fact that this will be very likely be a long and tedious slog at the best of times.

    With the benefits of modern technology you may though have a disctinct advantage over those who have tried similar things before and failed.

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  6. "Should the Constables remain as ex officio members of the States of Jersey?"

    I find that a frustratingly tricky question.

    On the one hand my local Constable does tend to listen to the public and get things done. As such I feel he is an approachable face of politics who IS working for the public.

    On the other hand, there is the problem of the Constables voting en bloc, often in favour of anti-public pro-establishment motions.

    So I wouldn't wish to see my local Constable have his "power" to work for the public curtailed, but I also wouldn't want the Constables to have the "power" to continue voting against the public interest. Unfortunately it can't be had both ways.

    But an associated problem is that under the Ministerial system we have seen what amounts to almost zero accountabilty amongst Ministers for large scale fouls ups or questionable conduct. So if we remove the Constables completely we're left with a more powerful yet largely unaccountable group entirely holding the reins.

    Before debating the issue of the Constables we first need a complete shake up of the Ministerial tier of the system.

    Ministerial government has clearly failed the people of Jersey so that needs to go, or be curtailed in some manner. Once that's sorted THEN would be the time to debate the Constables issue, because we would be able to approach that question from a more focused and defined viewpoint.

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    1. Thanks anonymous.

      I think you make some really important and profound points here. I'll do a proper response tomorrow when I have time, but in the meantime I hope you're free to come down to our meeting tonight and talk about this!

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  7. So how did it go?

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    1. Really well! The turn out was great, there was lots of applause and people seemed to respond to what we were saying.

      Much of the night was filmed, so hopefully that'll be online soon and I'll post a link to it.

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